Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Price of Green

We’re facing an economic crisis unlike anything since the Great Depression and understandably people are hunkering down and questioning their purchasing decisions. In the past few months, I’ve heard many consumers and business colleagues say that they just cannot afford to be Green right now. If you define Green as I did last week in this blog, then basically by not being Green, they are putting their personal health, their family’s health and the future health of our planet on hold. As if they will just wait until they have the extra money to get well.

I’m not willing to take those risks, but I am concerned about the financial crisis. So I’m sharpening my pencil and looking differently at my consumption with a Green eye towards Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. By being a little smarter, I can both save money and practice my Green lifestyle.

1. Transportation: when I take the bus or walk to/from work instead of taking a cab I can save money (Savings: $0 or $2 vs. $8 one way so I can save up to $16 a day).
Reduce: Saves my community from additional carbon emissions and conserves fuel.

2. Home cooked meals: when I cook at home with my organic produce I can make a healthier meal than eating out or ordering in and I can make it last for days. For instance, a roast organic chicken can be the main course on Saturday night, and then I’ll cook up the bones and extra meat in a chicken soup that we can eat on Sunday night and freeze the rest for a few other meals. (Savings: one $9 chicken can feed us for up to 5 nights).
Reuse: Saves my family’s health and supports organic farmers.

3. Homemade cleaning supplies: when you start to clean with white vinegar and water, you realize that you don’t need strong cleaning supplies for everyday cleaning. White vinegar disinfects, shines and deodorizes virtually everything. (Savings: just $1.79 for 32 oz. multipurpose white vinegar vs. at least $3.29 each for many 32 oz. regular cleaning products)
Reduce and Recycle: Saves time shopping for multiple cleaning products. Glass bottle is easily recycled.

4. Drink clean water: when I don’t buy bottled water and instead drink clean, filtered water. (Savings: at least $1.50 for each 8 oz. bottle.)
Reuse: Saves me money when I use my reusable water bottle.

5. Line dry clothes: when my apartment building doubled their dryer prices to $1.50 per load, I decided to reduce my dryer load and instead hang as much as I could on a clothing line in my bathroom. (Savings: $4.50 a week based on line drying three $1.50 loads)
Reduce: Saves on energy costs with less dryer use.

These are just a few ideas and I’m sure you have more to share. To live Green, you don’t need to spend more money. In these tough economic times, we need to think about basic economic principles. If people stop buying Green now then the price to be Green will only increase. To bring these costs down, we must continue to increase demand.

We’ve come so far in mainstreaming Green over the past few years, let’s not revert back to the days when being Green was an elite club. When you see organics at Wal-Mart, it is a good thing for our wallets. When you buy Green products, Green companies will continue to grow, innovate and improve their products. Now is not the time to stop being Green, but rather it is time to be a smarter shade of Green. Perhaps this shift requires a new word for our Green movement: Sage Green.

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